Which Credit Card Offer Is Better — British Airways Or Marriott?

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There are two especially lucrative limited time sign-up bonuses on co-branded Chase cards, and I plan on applying for one. I’m trying to decide which is more compelling, and figured if I’m not sure, chances are I’m not the only one. In this post I’ll break down the perks and share my thoughts.

Let me start by saying that both of these offers are available to those who haven’t received a new cardmember bonus for the specific card in the past 24 months. In my case, I’ve never had the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, while I had the British Airways Visa Signature® Card a while back, though didn’t get the bonus in the past 24 months.

Limited time British Airways Visa Signature® Card offer

The British Airways Visa Card is offering a great sign-up bonus for those who are big spenders. The details of the offer are as follows:

  • 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend $10,000 on purchases for a total of 75,000 bonus Avios
  • Earn another 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend a total of $20,000 on purchases within your first year

You can potentially earn 100,000 Avios after spending a total of $20,000 within a year. The card also has a $95 annual fee.

In terms of long term perks, the card offers a travel together ticket when you spend at least $30,000 on the card in a calendar year. This will cover the Avios required for the second passenger on a British Airways award, though keep in mind both passengers are still responsible for the taxes and carrier imposed surcharges.

Redeem the companion ticket for British Airways first class

Limited time Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card offer

The Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is offering the following sign-up bonus:

  • 80,000 Marriott Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months
  • Earn 7,500 bonus points when you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening

You can potentially earn 87,500 Marriott Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months, and adding an authorized user who makes a purchase. The card also has an $85 annual fee.

Which limited time offer is better?

On one hand it’s tough to compare these two offers side-by-side, given that they’re completely different — one is for hotel points while the other is for airline points, and the minimum spend requirements are vastly different. So I’ll try to share my valuations of these bonuses best I can. I will say that neither of these are cards I’d be putting long term, everyday spend on, since there are better options out there for that, like the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card.

In general I should say that:

  • I value Marriott Rewards points at ~0.7 cents each
  • I value British Airways Avios at ~1.2 cents each

With that in mind:

  • I value the sign-up bonus of 87,500 points on the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card at $527.50 ($612.50 worth of points, minus the $85 annual fee)
  • I value the sign-up bonus of 50,000 Avios on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card at $505 ($600 worth of points, minus the $95 annual fee)
    • If you can complete the $10,000 of spend, I value the 75,000 Avios at $805 ($900 worth of points, minus the $95 annual fee)
    • If you can complete the $20,000 of spend, I value the 100,000 Avios at $1,105 ($1,200 worth of points, minus th $95 annual fee)

The above assumes you could spend $10,000-20,000 on your card, which I realize many can’t. And even if you could, there’s an opportunity cost to that spend, as you could instead be putting the spend on a card which earns more bonus points.

Let’s say you’re able to reach the $20,000 in spend through a tax payment, which can be done with a credit card at a cost of ~1.88%. That $20,000 of spend would cost you $376. When you add in the 20,000 Avios you’d earn for the spend and then subtract that from the sign-up bonus, you’re still looking at a value of ~$969 (120,000 Avios worth $1,440, minus the $376 in fees, minus the $95 annual fee).

That also doesn’t account for being very close to the $30,000 spending threshold required for the companion certificate.

Which am I going to apply for?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how I plan on getting the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, in large part due to the merger between Starwood and Marriott. Sometime in the future those points totals will be combined, so it seems like a good way to further boost my points balance with the combined program.

Furthermore, the card comes with an annual free night certificate, valid at a Category 1-5 Marriott property. I’ll certainly get value out of that, especially as the merger between Marriott and Starwood progresses. That more than justifies the annual fee on the card, in my opinion, so makes this card a long term keeper.

An annual free night certificate at Marriott properties would come in handy…

But then I’m also thinking about the British Airways Visa Signature® Card. I had this card back in the day, though haven’t received a bonus on it in the past 24 months, so I’d be eligible for the offer. Avios are extremely valuable for shorthaul flights, so I’m very tempted to apply for that card. With the devaluations we’re seeing from other airlines, I also think the companion award ticket potentially has a lot of value as well.

British Airways Avios are very useful for shorthaul awards on American and Alaska

Bottom line

These are both fantastic offers for Chase’s co-branded cards, and I suspect the best value depends on what you’re after. To summarize my thoughts as simply as possible:

  • If you’re a big credit card spender in categories which don’t accrue bonuses, the British Airways Visa Signature® Card sign-up bonus is fantastic
  • If you’re not a huge credit card spender but are loyal to Marriott or Starwood, the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card is tempting for the sign-up bonus and the annual free night certificate
  • If you’re neither a big spender nor loyal to Marriott or Starwood, it really comes down to which points you value more — if you value shorthaul award tickets, the sign-up bonus of 50,000 Avios on the BA Visa is good (that requires just $2,000 of spend), while if you get value out of free hotel nights, the Marriott Visa is a great option

Which sign-up bonus do you think is better — that on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card or Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card?

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  1. The rule isn’t in effect forco-branded cards yet, hence why he said it’s a dilemma many are facing as the clock winds down.

    Personally, I was between Marriott and Hyatt. I’d rather use the annual Hyatt free night certificate, but I’ve got 160k+ Marriott points mostly from a 140k Ritz bonus last year.

    I’m going to go Marriott as it will put me within striking distance of a hotel + flight package I want to redeem for in January :).

  2. I do not agree with your logic of using cards with relatively high bonuses like the amex everyday to say they are better than the ba card. The first 50,000 is for me the real bonus because its so easy to get. The second and third tier can be viewed as bonus points if you know you will meet the thresholds.

    For 2k to 10k you are earning 25000/8000 or about 3.125 extra points per dollar
    For 10k to 20k you are earning obviously 2.5 miles per dollar

    This gives you 4.125 avios per dillar for any purchase up to 10k$ and 3.5 avios for 10k to 20k

    Still way better than any other card

  3. @ Marko — Right, and agree that’s perfectly sound logic. I guess my point is that if you *can* generate spend through other means (like a tax payment) at a reasonable cost, then that’s the better way to reach the minimum spend on these cards. In other words, I’d rather pay 1.88 cents per generated point to reach the minimum spend over using this card to pay for airfare or hotels, where I could otherwise earn 3x points on other cards.

  4. Lucky-
    Not sure if this is because I’m a potential new customer who didn’t use their services last year, but it looks like both payUSAtax and ChoicePay have raised their conveniences fees this year to 1.99% and 2.25% respectively.

  5. See, I decided to just give up on chase for the moment. Which actually works out just fine, because I was the lone loser who DIDN’T have the SPG Amex. Ha!

  6. I got the British Airways card last year and found redeeming them to be difficult. I’m finally able to get a one way ticket from DFW to PVR – considered a short haul, but I couldn’t get availability in economy round trip no matter what I tried.

    I’ve also tried other routes LAX/MIA/LGA/PSP/JAC/SEA. I either can’t get any availability or the only availability is premium/first which within the US is 40K points each way so I have found this card has not been very useful for me. I guess if you live in DCA/LGA/LAX this may be more of a benefit but from DFW don’t bother.

  7. One thing you don’t address is transferring Marriott points to one of their airline partners, rather than using the points for hotel stays. Or am I missing something?

  8. Following Marko’s calculations above, if you can spend $30K in a calendar year, the points/$ ratio is phenomenal…

    $30K spend generates 100,000 Avios + 30,000 Avios = 130,000 Avios total
    So the Companion travel certificate is worth up to 130,000 BA Avios

    If you can redeem BA award travel using all 130,000 points and bring along a travel companion, you get…
    2 x 130,000 = 260,000 (equivalent) Avios for $30K spend = 8.67 Avios/$ (theoretical max value)

    Obviously, it’s unlikely anyone will redeem BA award travel worth the full 2 x 130K points, but even at lower figures, you could get
    210,000 (equivalent) Avios for $30K spend = 7 Avios/$
    which is a more realistic (and still an outstanding) figure.

    I signed up for this card at the end of December, to get the max 366-day (Jan 1 to Dec 31) calendar year spending window.

  9. Do you or Nico have any inside info on when the 5/24 rule is going to go into effect for co-branded cards? I’ve been panicking about it.

  10. @Luke – The spending timeline isn’t a calendar year, it’s 12 months from when you’re approved to meet the $10k or $20k thresholds.

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